Archive for August, 2013

The Browning of Catholicism

25/08/2013
Catholic Ethnicity by Decades: 1972-2012 GSS

Catholic Ethnicity by Decades: 1972-2012 GSS

It is no secret that the Catholic Church is getting browner, this is true worldwide, and it is certainly the case in the United States. What is less well known are the demographic and sociological processes that are driving this. Sure, we all know that the growing Latino population is swelling the ranks, but there is more involved. Still, you can see from the GSS data presented above that while in the 1970s Catholicism in the United States was mostly white and Western European—and Eastern Europeans added another 17%–So white people made up 85% of Catholics. Fast forward to the 21st century and only 55% of Catholics are Western European, and fewer than 10% are Eastern European. Latin Americans are now the second largest ethnicity, and if you put together Asians and African Americans they are as numerous as Eastern Europeans.

Catholic Defection by Decade and Ethnicity: 1972-2012 GSS

Catholic Defection by Decade and Ethnicity: 1972-2012 GSS

Another thing driving Catholic ethnic proportions are differential rates of defection. The Catholic church is losing BIG over time, and defection rates have increased from 16% in the 1970s to 29% in the 21st century. Most of that increase in defection is coming among Western Europeans, Eastern Europeans, and African Americans.  Child molestation scandals combined with ingrained sexism, homophobia, and political conservatism in the church hierarchy are driving out white and African American Catholics who resent the politicization of the Church. While  rates of defection have increased a tad for Latin Americans and Asians, they are much more stable. And, check out those HUGE losses among African Americans! As the American church hierarchy has abandoned their commitment to social justice, backed amoral libertarian nutjobs like Rick Santorum, Paul Ryan, Bobby Jindal, and etc, and closed inner city Catholic schools at a disproportionate rate, African Americans have voted with their feet—nearly half of African Americans who grew up Catholic leave the Church.

Catholic Conversion by Ethnicity

Catholic Conversion by Ethnicity

Nobody in their right mind would convert to Catholicism, I mean, what kind of wackjob is gonna jump on that Medieval sinking ship? Most Catholic converts do so for marriage reasons, and overall conversion rates appear to be in decline, and are under 8%. While African American Catholics are more likely to be converts than in other groups, they’re losing far more than they are gaining from switching.

Support for Reducing Income Inequality by Ethnicity

Support for Reducing Income Inequality by Ethnicity

What is interesting is that as white people become less and less common in the Catholic Church, they may be challenged about their move away from the social justice orientation that used to prevail in American Catholicism. How are Latin American Catholics going to deal with the Santorums, Ryans, and Steve Kings? Now, with a Latin American Pope, I wonder if perhaps they may deny communion to someone like Steve King, whose open hatred of Catholic immigrants can barely be contained. White Catholics are opposed to immigration reform, yet immigration is what is keeping the Catholic Church afloat! Above you can also see how ethnicity drives support for reducing inequality—White Catholics don’t want the government to reduce inequality, while brown Catholics are more supportive. It’ll be an interesting next few decades. My prediction? The Vatican will indeed reduce its focus on sexuality issues and begin to support social justice—leading to increased participation among Latin Americans and widespread defection of Europeans who don’t want to share communion with skinny Mexican drug mules with cantaloupe calves.

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All Black People are Alike: And other embarassing claims of religious sociology

14/08/2013
You like goats? I like goats!

You like goats? I like goats!

Thankfully, I decided to skip the Sociology Prom and finish my book (which I did!), and take a family vacation and race bikes and shit. But, alas, the high school sociology meetings intrude on my cognitive space. The latest bullshit was this total fucking dweeb ass summary of abstracts from the AAR meetings. Jesus fucking a frog. Anyone who goes to the AAR should have their sociology card revoked. And, of course, the list of serious intellectuals was a who’s who of Christianist sociology. I’m surprised Marky Regnerus and Bradley Wilcox weren’t on the tally, after all it was fronted by Christian Smith!

I’m not going to comment at this time on the full ledger of hamfisted and disconnected bullshit that gives me no hope for the field, but I do want to say just a bit about the claim that somehow a clan of conservative Christians came up with a solid measure of religion and that this is one of the pinnacle achievements of Christian sociology in the early 21st century…..First, it would be nice if somehow people realized that many of us knew how to classify religion long before a handful of jesus freak students at a Pew of Lilly funded christian sociologist development workshop began trying their cum laden hands to the task. Yeah, maybe it isn’t too hard to beat Tom Smith’s three way classification, but the bullshit concoction these losers came up with can’t even do that! It’s fucking nuts! READ THE FUCKING PUBLICATIONS. They made a less parsimonious classification that does no better than Smith. And, of course, anyone who actually studied the sociology of religion knew that much better classification systems had been developed by Stark and Glock, Roof and McKinney, and (my personal favorite) Kluegel.

What is most bestest is how the pasty white conservative Christians who formulated this bullshit system of the classification of denominational identifications decided that ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE THE SAME.  Yes, as we prepare to enter a society where most people are NOT white, we should continue to examine Not White People as if they are all the same. Because, fuck them. Then shoot them. I mean, what the fuck. They’re all the same, right? I think I have six or seven publications examining this issue, and my vague recollection is NO. No, they are not all alike. They have different views of political issues, varying levels of social status, and different patterns of association and co-involvement. There is no such thing as a “Black Protestant” and the construction and promotion of this is a hindrance to social science based primarily on the racist predilections of  conservative Christian “social scientists.”

High School Sociology

08/08/2013
I've got your back! No need for double blind here!

I’ve got your back! No need for double blind here!

I always played on the margins of social groups. Nobody could ever fuck with me when I was a kid because I was physically intimidating and prone to violence, and I was smarter than most people on top of that. But mostly, I tried to remain stoned enough not to even notice my physical and intellectual inferiors. It’s a bit funny looking back, but not funny enough to go to my 30th high school reunion, after all I was in Tulsa just a few weeks before for a bike race and to see my mom. What has always fascinated me about social stratification is how it plays on intangible but clearly ethnic and class-based cues to discern who the “cool” people are. And, of course, since I really was a cool person, the definition of who is “cool” in broader high school society was really about who is what we used to call a “sosh.” Very Tulsa, of course, for those who read SE Hinton, I never did, but I knew her from coming into the restaurants where I worked (she married some worthless rich oilee), and she was a decent person.  Popular people who crave social gratification are generally only rewarded because they were little rich boys and girls, and/or were willing to actively participate in the social sanctioning system that created the status hierarchy. The hierarchy had nothing to do with how nice you were, how much you helped others, your talents at sport or arts (perhaps excepting football), or even physical attractiveness. It was all about the suck-up cliquishness that defined the hierarchy based on wealth, ethnicity, and the willingness to unyieldingly support the reinforcement of the status hierarchy. Sociology is a lot like that, and we’re about to see a real “market adjustment” because of that.

I’ve always been somewhat liminal in my profession, and most of my age group peers are not my professional peers. I’m 47, but i’ve been a professor since 1991, and I made tenure at Vanderbilt in 1995. The “cool kids” are generally people who are my age, but got their PhD’s ten years after I did. I worry that the current crop of highly rewarded “sosh” sociologists–the “cool kids” who are not really very cool, but instead are complete attention whores—are not going to be able to sustain the work that needs to be done to continue the regular production of scholarly thought in the discipline. Most of the “cool kids” are pretty fucking narrow in their orientations, training, and coverage of the discipline. It’s okay to focus on your own shit, but you can’t edit ASR if you have no clue about theory and research outside of your area of expertise. And, you can’t edit a journal at all if you have no idea how the editorial process works, or of the enormity of the project of producing social science. The Regnerus fiasco and the problem of ASR’s complete collapse are related. On the one hand we had a journal with strong production focus and a strong editor making a decision to publish something that should not have been published, and on the other we have a journal where decisions are simply not being made, and authors are dealing with 3 and 4 revise and resubmits because the editorial coalition has no focus. SSR made a bad decision because more senior scholars were not willing to be critical of developing sampling and data collection techniques (and didn’t read the paper very carefully), and most of the “cool kids” refuse to review for “minor journals.”  ASR has problems making decisions because of their clusterfuck administrative structure, and the fact that none of the editors are very general in their scholarly orientation–It’s hard to know how to edit a journal (much less the top journal in the field) when you haven’t done many reviews, served on many editorial boards,  or edited a lower tier journal. But, of course, “cool kids” are certainly not going to review for minor journals much less edit them.

What worries me is that the age of the intellectual is over, and that means that nobody will be minding the store in the future. I can envision a time when professional editors with no scholarly merit come to control the publication process—much as they do with book publication. What will matter is only whether or not the article in question will generated downloads and maybe citations. Scholarly merit won’t matter shit. And, of course, the big effect of the Regnerus fiasco which none of the “cool kids” seems to understand is that we are now creeping towards a review process which not only rejects the ideal of double blind review, but makes reviewers and authors completely open—thus encouraging review by high school popularity, rather than scholarly merit.

In any event, I’m worried that the next generation of sociologists are ill-prepared for editing our journals and taking up the serious task of making hard decisions about what should and what should not be published. The sociological “soshs” are inexperienced, uncooperative, naive, and ill-equipped to succeed the serious scholars from the baby boom who are about to retire. This is going to hit us hard as a discipline, and it could produce a kind of bickering and fracturing that has left disciplines like anthropology reeling.